five on friday (03/31)

ONE. Spring is finally here and we have been soaking it all in! For family night this week, we headed to the pond for a picnic and to feed the ducks. It’s so exciting to eat your sandwich outside!

Nella might be too little for a sandwich, but she was content to just sit and take in her surroundings. This girl is never short on smiles!

TWO. We’re officially that family with so many little kids that we drive the equivalent of a bus for a stroller. For months, I dragged my feet on upgrading, because it seemed a little excessive to have such a big stroller, but after combining a sale with a coupon, I decided to just go for it. I like to take relatively long walks, and the truth is that Kaya gets tired and can’t make it on foot the entire way. It’s been super nice having a seat that she can easily get in and out of as she pleases.

Nella really likes it too! She can (mostly) sit up and ride without the car seat, and she loves excitedly kicking her feet as she sees the world around her.
After a two-week hiatus, we started another round of Kangaroo​ Kids! My girls were so excited to jump, slide, and run through obstacles again. Even more impressively, they do it all with an armful of rubber duckies!

FOUR. We’ve been enjoying (and adjusting to) life with a little puppy! Scout is settling in and figuring everything out. Apparently, if you can’t reach your water bowl, it’s acceptable to stand in your food bowl.

One day we’re going to look at this picture and be amazed that she was small enough to fit under the chair!

FIVE. Sometimes it’s a little crazy taking care of all these little people, but once in a while, we’ll have a moment that feels perfect and makes all the hard work worth it. Our family walk and time spent at the playground this week was just that.

meet scout

It’s been an entire week since we brought her home, so it’s about time I introduce you to our newest furry family member, Scout!

Kaya was bitten by our previous family dog nearly two years ago, and after a lot of emotional healing for both her and me, we’re excited to start fresh. To be honest, as much as I absolutely love animals, I’ve still felt sensitive throughout this process. Kaya, however, has this amazing ability to forgive and constantly love. I’m so grateful for the wonderful example she sets for me.

I had been browsing Craigslist, looking at puppies, for a few months. Last week, I saw Scout’s picture and instantly fell in love. She was part of an unplanned litter of puppies, located a couple of hours away. The owner agreed to meet us at a halfway point so we could see the puppies and decide if we wanted to bring one home.

I didn’t tell the kids what we were doing, other than that we were having a “super special family night” (they guessed that we were going to the pond to feed the ducks!) and that we would be in the car for about an hour. When Kaya saw the puppies out the van window, she instantly started beaming, and she couldn’t wait to get out and pet them. She was even more surprised when I asked her, “Do you want to take this puppy home with us?”

The sun was setting as she grinned and giggled, happily walking that tiny, 10-week old puppy down the sidewalk. It was truly one of those moments I won’t forget.She rode all the way home peacefully sleeping on my lap.

Kaelyn was overtired and cranky when we first saw the puppies, but she started to warm up to Scout after we went to do some puppy-supply shopping.Scout is supposedly a mix of lab and pit bull, and she currently weighs about 14.5 pounds. The vet predicts she’ll even out around 50-60 pounds in adulthood. I think we’re basically going to have a giant lapdog, since she has no qualms about sitting right on you for some cuddles.She had never been on a leash before we got her, so we’re working on that, along with basic commands, like sit, leave it, and down. I’m actually impressed with how quickly she’s been learning words. She loves to burrow into wet grass, and she’s already unearthed several tennis balls that the previous homeowners left in the yard.

Kaya keeps telling me “I’m so glad we have a puppy again!”

So am I.

lelia’s baby shower

Two weekends ago, we took a little road trip to attend Lelia’s baby shower. As a bonus surprise, my brother and sister-in-law, Kevin and Tori, flew to Virginia from Utah the night before the party. Kevin came out here for a job interview, but I’ll take any reason to spend time with my entire extended family.

I’m so glad that we could have all the sisters-in-law and our mom-in-law together at the shower! These are some truly amazing ladies. One of Lelia’s friends from church put this all together. The decorations were adorable and the games were truly fun. I even won the baby boy name race game (whoever can list a boy name for every letter of the alphabet the fastest wins… hello “Yusef!”, haha)! Everyone knows what Lelia likes pretty well: penguin jammies……a “this baby needs a pony” onesie in Hokie colors…
…and a lot of baby dinosaurs! (“Baby Dinosaur” was Lelia’s nickname when she lived with Michael and me for one semester of college, so it’s only appropriate that her little guy has some dinosaur outfits!) I’m so grateful that we could be there to celebrate Lelia and her sweet baby boy. I can’t wait to meet him in just about two months!

kaya says (march 2017)

It’s been so incredibly long since I’ve written one of these posts that I have a year’s worth of funny quotes saved up from Kaya. Some of these are just too good not to share (like things she said when I was pregnant with Nella), so I’m including them too, even though they’re “old”.

Me: We’re going blueberry picking!

Kaya: Ooooo, in the enchanted forest?

“Mommy I about need a bra because we keep seeing my tummy!”

“If you eat the cheese all gone on Tuesday, you’ll have a big tummy… And maybe a tummy ache.”

(Talking about her imaginary family): “I have 25 boys and 12 girls. Meowy was born first, and then Alice, and then Barney, and then Pickley and Skittley and then I don’t remember my other kids’ names…”

Kaya: We try to do school 5 days [a week].
Me: You do homeschool?
Well, some of my kids go to real school because there’s not enough room on the carpet and then they block it [the view] and some of my kids can’t see.

(When she’s pretending and says “my daddy”, she’s actually referencing her would-be husband):

“My daddy stays home everyday to help me take care of my kids because that would be really hard.” Well, at least she recognizes that Mommies do a lot for their children. And you’re right Kaya, sometimes it isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

I came back home in the middle of a run for a bathroom break. Kaya saw me and exclaimed “Go back outside sweaty girl!” Apparently sweaty people are not allowed in the house.

(Michael went to tuck her into bed one more time, at her request):
Kaya: What do I smell? Daddy, did you brush your teeth yet?

Michael: No.
Kaya: Well, if you come back in here again, you need to brush your teeth first.

I’m a BOY!!!! (as she makes a tough face)
Michael: No, you’re a tough girl!
Kaya: I’m a TOUGH BOY!
Me: So, what does a tough boy do?
Kaya: Ummm… Sing!

Me: Can you come put this silverware away?
Kaya: Oh, but I can’t, ’cause I have a baby in my tummy and it’s hard having a baby in your tummy sometimes.

And some of my favorites from when we were expecting Nella:

Kaya: Babies come out this way? (pointing at her throat and mouth)
Me: Nope… Babies don’t come out that way…

(As I go to take a shower):
“No get your baby wet!”

Me: The baby likes it when I run.
Kaya: Yeah, your baby is laughing when you run I think.

Me: I think I might have just felt the baby move, right there.
Kaya: Oh, she’s trying to get out, I think.

(Kaelyn needed a timeout, so we put her in what was going to be Nella’s future room):
Kaya: But that’s the baby’s room! I don’t want to get tears in the baby’s room!

five on friday (03/17)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ONE. Daylight Savings was so good to us on Sunday. Afternoon church is a big struggle with little kids who are missing their naps, but skipping ahead an hour and having a little “extra” sunshine (and lollipops) made everyone a little less cranky​.And yes, I love matching dresses with my baby.
TWO. In honor of “Pi Day”, we made a chocolate chip cookie pie (with this crust) to bring to our youth mutual activity on Tuesday night. If you like gooey amazingness… this is the perfect pie.

Kaelyn actually rolled out the crust herself and did a great job (all while making the silliest faces)!THREE. Once a month for past few months, Michael has been holding training meetups for a company named Docker. There, he teaches some of the latest software development practices. Our girls are obsessed with their whale logo, and when Nella was born, they actually sent a onesie just for her. This baby looks so good in blue!Michael had his meeting this week, which coincided with Docker’s birthday. He needed to bring cupcakes, so naturally, the girls and I whipped some up. Yellow cake with chocolate buttercream might be my current favorite combination.

FOUR. Michael has been painting our bedroom this week, and apparently reviewing the alphabet with Kaya at the same time! Haha. If you’re thinking that this blue looks the same as the color in the office, you’re right. I’m kind of obsessed with it, but I promise this is the last room in the house that’s going to be blue.

FIVE. Of course, we had to make some art for St. Patrick’s Day! The girls finger painted rainbows and we learned a little bit about the holiday and the mythological leprechauns.Kaelyn’s art was a little more abstract, but I still love it (and her silly faces)!

Happy weekend!

nella: 5 months

Clothing size: Still 3-6 month items, although to be honest, with that big cloth diaper, it’s getting difficult to zip up her jammies or pull her jeggings over her bum. We’re ready to move up!

Eye color: The bluest blue I ever did see.

Nursing: Every 2-3 hours during the day. She’s actually pretty fast at eating now… when she’s paying attention. Her free arm is usually flailing, scratching my face, or trying to grab my mouth, so I’ve resorted to holding her hand to try and keep her focused.

Sleep: There’s supposed to be a 4-month sleep regression, right? I fully expected her to start waking up for an extra feeding at night, but she still keeps sleeping right on through (about 8 pm to 5:30 am). I nurse her in the morning, and then she goes back to sleep until around 7:30 or 8 am.As if this wasn’t good enough, she’s started taking a real nap (by herself!) every afternoon. She’ll catnap for about 20 minutes in the morning around 10 am or so, and at about 1:30 pm, she naps for 2.5-3 hours. It seems like a ton of sleep, but that’s what she needs at this age. She’s still sleeping in our room, partly because the updated AAP recommendation is for babies to sleep in their parents’ room for the first 6 months, and partly because it is going to completely break my heart to move her to her own room (down the hall just seems so far away, right?)! She’s so quiet at night that she doesn’t disturb our sleep, anyway.

Favorite things: I keep joking to Michael that when our oldest two girls were babies, we only had each other as competition for being their “favorite”… well, now I’m pretty certain we play third and fourth fiddle to Nella’s big sisters. They are her absolute favorite people in the whole world. They get the biggest smiles and the loudest laughs out of her. I love it.

Nella also loves music (she’ll kick her legs wildly when she hears a tune that she’s excited about), especially church primary songs. She loves when I squeeze her chubby little legs or pretend to eat her up with kisses. She also thinks it’s hilarious if you pretend to sneeze, and it’s probably the easiest way to get her laughing.

Dislikes: She still almost never cries, so there’s really nothing I can say she particularly dislikes. She’s trying hard to hold onto toys, but she accidentally dropped one on her face a few days ago and cried so hard. Really, though, who likes hitting themselves in the head? She is an angel baby.

Nicknames: I think we’ve finally found her main nickname: Nellbells! She just beams when Daddy gets home from work and greets her by that name. She’s still also known as Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Nels, Angel, Cheeks, and Cheeky. Kaelyn calls her “Newwa” and “Newwie”, and Kaya still refers to her as “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” and “Pushy Cheeks” (“squishy cheeks”).

Milestones, etc.: -She’s so close to being able to sit up on her own! She’s trying so hard and I know she wants to be just like her big sisters. I think she’ll definitely be doing it within the next month.

-She’s so incredibly chatty! She will gurgle and coo (loudly!) until you look at her and talk back.

-She’s grabbing everything, from her toys to her toes. If she’s awake in her seat upstairs, I can hear the little bell inside her snail jingling nearly incessantly as she plays with it.

-She had her first (albeit slow) ride in a swing this month!-Her cradle cap is gone and her hair is still as wild as ever. Even if I comb it down flat after her bath, it still finds a way to start sticking up as a mohawk.-She has a special little birthmark in the shape of a heart on her arm. I guess it’s been there for a few months, but I wasn’t sure it was going to stick around. For some reason, seeing that little heart on her arm is just another reminder of how special and loved she is, both by us and our family in heaven.

-She’s so great at visually tracking objects now. There’s a bubble machine at the Kangaroo Kids program we’ve been going to, and she loves just sitting there and watching the bubbles float by.

-All the Young Women at church love her. She gets passed all around during our lesson, and honestly, I love seeing how they so utterly adore her.

-She’s a pro at undoing the velcro on her cloth diapers… Don’t leave her without a onesie on for any length of time, because I guarantee she’ll be nearly naked in minutes!

Dear Nella,

My sweet, beautiful baby girl. Suddenly, you seem to have become your own person. You’re so alert and spend plenty of time taking in the world around you.

Your smile lifts my spirits like nothing else can. I look forward to that first moment in the morning when you wake up and our eyes meet- you always grin contentedly at me while you stretch your arms.You are the best little snuggler. Sometimes, you’ll rest your head on my shoulder when I’m carrying you around, and it’s little things like that that melt my heart completely.I love you so much, Nella Joy. Keep on being so sweet.

Love, Mommy

five on friday (03/10)

ONE. Michael is my knight in shining armor. Actually, I’m certain he was made for his role as such a tender-hearted, patient husband and father of daughters. I started the week off being sick (again, which is typically unusual for me), and he came home early from work just to take care of us. All four of us adore him, and I’m so grateful for this guy who gives us his all one hundred percent of the time.

TWO. The “March comes in like a lion” expression has certainly been true around here lately, with our area experiencing everything from extreme gusts of wind, to snow, to rainstorms, to 60-degree days. Kaya was beyond excited about the random snow we had, and although none of it stuck around, she loved catching the flakes and twirling outside in it.

THREE. Two of Kaya and Kaelyn’s favorite things: jammies and baby dolls! These little girls play “babies” together nearly all day everyday. Kaya’s baby, Alice, was apparently born and celebrated her 3rd birthday party all in the same week. Kaelyn’s baby, Doll, learned to walk today. These are very busy babies!FOUR. I’ve made some major strides (haha, running humor) in my pace in these past few weeks. Doing speed work has really been paying off, and although it might not look like much to some, I’m so happy to see improvement. I’ve never been a very fast runner, but getting back to where I was pre-Nella is encouraging.

FIVE. When I’m nursing the baby, the girls love to make a “tunnel” under my legs between the ottoman and the chair. Kaelyn thought it’d be fun to hide and then surprise me… I think this little .GIF is pretty hilarious (and oh so representative of her personality)!  

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

dear kaelyn (2.5 years)

Dear Kaelyn,

I’ve been writing this letter to you in my mind for a couple of months now, but it always seems to take me so long to get it all written out. I want you to be able to look back on this someday, and know just what a wonderful little 2.5-year-old girl you were, and realize exactly how much your family loves you.

You are my sweet, calm little lady. Believe me, you know how to yell and make a ruckus when you’re being extra silly, but you truly seem to have a tranquil spirit. This age can be a rough one, but for the most part, you are good at following rules and not throwing tantrums.

You are independent. You want to do nearly everything on your own. I’m so proud of you for acting so grown-up and taking responsibility for what needs to get done.

You are loving, and you give the snuggest hugs your tiny arms are capable of. You wrap them around my neck and hold on until I pull away. Sometimes, you put your head against mine to cuddle (you do this to “hug” Nella, too). Every once in a while, you run over to me, give me a kiss (sometimes it’s in a random place, like on my arm), and then you return to whatever fun you were having. You never go to bed without finding me and your baby sister for goodnight kisses.

Kaya is your very best friend. No exaggeration, you two play together all day long. You both really love each other.You are an incredibly sweet big sister. You assumed your new role seamlessly, and you absolutely adore “baby Newwa”. You kiss her, hug her, and talk to her all day long. You’re also very defensive if you see someone touching anything of Nella’s (like her car seat, bouncer, or any toys), so you always say “uh-oh, Newwa’s!”

Your favorite colors are blue, purple, and pink (in that order). For months, you insisted that I use one blue and one pink hair band each time I made your pigtails. Now, you sometimes switch one of those colors out for purple. You always want to wear your hair in pigtails because you think they look like “puppy ears”, and you love pretending to be a dog.

You name your stuffed toys based on what they are or what sound they make. Your horses are all “Neigh-Neigh” and your baby doll is “Doll”, simple as that. I tried to get creative and ask you if she was named “Dolly Parton”, but you insisted on just “Doll”. I love how you know exactly what you want.

You love all animals, but your very favorites are dogs! I think you have more puppy items than Kaya has cats, which is saying something! Your tan dog named Cinnamon is your main best friend, and he has gone everywhere with you for the past few months. I’ve gotten you several Paw Patrol coloring books, stickers, and even sneakers, and they are some of your favorite things, even though you have no idea that those characters are actually from a television show.

You have a sweet, quiet sense of humor. You are always doing silly things to make us laugh! Lately, our running joke is after mealtime, when you dab your face just the tiniest bit with a washcloth and then ask me “clean?”, even though you know it’s definitely not. You wait for me to say “nooooo!”, and then you burst into a thousand giggles.

You pick out your own clothes each day, and your favorite outfits include anything with a pattern on them. Your favorites are your heart jeans, star pants, and polka dot purple jammies.Your language skills have exploded in the past couple of months. You’ve started speaking in sentences, and nearly every time you say something, your Daddy and I glance at each other as if to silently ask each other “did you hear how cute she just sounded?” A couple of my favorite things that you say are “peepeeboo” (instead of peekaboo) and “miss you guys” (which is what you say every Sunday after nursery or whenever you’re talking about how you missed us when we went to the hospital to have Nella).

You love to help me fold towels, put silverware in the drawer, and sweep the floor (although we’re still working on your technique on that last one).

You could do puzzles for hours (and I think sometimes you do in nursery), and you also love to sit and look at books or color. Whenever you see written letters, you’re always asking me what they are. You are very interested in learning. You also still seem to use your right and left hands equally when you’re coloring or trying to write.

You told us that when you grow up, you want to be a “blue nurse who takes care of babies”. I think you’d be perfect at that job.

You adore anything to do with Minnie Mouse (even though, once again, you don’t watch her show). You also have a somewhat strange affinity for this blue spatula Grandma Debbie gave you this past Christmas- you’ve even taken it to bed and nap time.

You’re not a picky eater. You are willing to try almost anything once, and you even like spicier things like pepperoni. You refuse to eat crust on anything though, like sandwiches and pizza. You love Greek yogurt, cheese, and cucumbers. Baking (and licking the beaters) is one of your favorite things to do.

I honestly feel like I don’t have as many photos of you as I should, but you usually don’t like to have your picture taken. You still need to learn to look at the camera and smile at the same time!

You still take a nap for about 2-2.5 hours every afternoon. Sometimes, you and Kaya goof off a little too much when you’re supposed to be resting, but I love hearing you giggle and play together.

We love you so much, Kaelyn Grace. Thank you for adding so much joy to our home.

Love, Mommy

happy birthday to me! (29)

On my birthday, I woke up to the sweetest surprise from my best friend- flowers and my favorite candy! These, vibrant, beautiful flowers ended up lasting for about two weeks, which is quite possibly the longest I’ve ever had anything green stay alive in my house.

The girls were so very excited to surprise me, and now that Kaelyn is using sentences, she repeatedly told me “happy burtday mama!” Her soft, sincere little voice melts my heart.
My birthday was on a Sunday this year, which meant that there wouldn’t be much time for celebrating, since we have church pretty much all day long. In addition to our regular schedule, we had our special New Beginnings program for the Young Women later that night. I love church, but I honestly was feeling a little disappointed that we wouldn’t have time to do anything special together as a family.
However, my heart immediately changed when I arrived at church and saw our Young Women, all excitedly shouting “happy birthday!” After all my previous feelings of disappointment, I realized that being with these amazing young ladies was right where I wanted (and probably needed) to spend my birthday. I made cinnamon rolls to bring to New Beginnings that evening, and we had a fun and uplifting day.
Later in the week, my mom came up to throw a belated mini birthday party for me. She read the girls all the books they asked her to and even played some games with them. No one can resist kissing these cheeks!And no one wants to nap when grandparents come to visit… until this happens:
My mom brought me a cookies and cream cake with fluffy, whipped frosting!My girls were so excited to have a tiny party for their mommy. I really can’t believe that all three of these little sweethearts are mine.
My mom gets all the credit for putting this birthday together! We’ve got some crazy blowing-out-the-candles faces, that’s for sure. My mom spoiled me with some potholders, kitchen utensils, and a shirt. The kids were so into helping me open everything that it almost turned into a race!

That’s the end of the birthday shenanigans. Here’s to making the last year of my twenties amazing!

five on friday (03/03)

Happy March! We’re on the brink of spring and sunshine, and I couldn’t be any more excited about the upcoming change of seasons.

We had a bit of a rough start to the week with Kaelyn and me coming down with colds. I think this sad little face says it all. Thankfully, she was better within a couple of days, and I’m almost back to normal. It really breaks my heart to see my babies feeling sick. Anyway, we still managed to fit some fun into the week:

ONE. The weather has been all over the spectrum, but we sure enjoyed the warmest day of the week by heading out for a walk and going to the playground. Kaya wanted to push Kaelyn on the swings, and she actually got her going pretty fast! Nella went on the swings for the very first time! She had no idea what was going on, and I just barely tapped the swing to get her moving, since she’s still a little wobbly with head stability. Bare baby toes in the sunshine are my favorite. TWO. Everyone wants to be just like Daddy…Michael’s desk has become the coloring station for Kaya and Kaelyn, sometimes as soon as they wake up in the morning!
THREE. Kaya came up with her own craft project this week… a Hello Kitty, of course! I’m proud of her for executing this idea with minimal instruction from me, and she was thrilled with how it turned out. FOUR. If you know me, you know this is long overdue, but I finally got the kids some French books! I had a really hard time narrowing down what I thought was worth buying to start out with, and I’m actually very happy with this small assortment. I pretty much jumped for joy each time one arrived in the mail, and I’ve loved reading them to the girls. Kaya has started using a few French words and phrases now and then, so obviously, I’m elated. FIVE. Sometimes, my favorite pictures are silly, blurry ones. Bedtime is usually chaos at our house, but I love this sweet eternal family of mine (plus, how cute are babies in jammies?)!

Linking up here, here, and here today!